Mean Girls and the Real Definition of a 'Best Friend'
As of last Wednesday, 10 years have passed since the movie Mean Girls entered the world in a flurry of pink. It amazes me that this story of a girl just trying to get through high school became such a phenomenon. But then, I suppose we can all relate to it somehow; hopefully with a little less pink though.
It is during school that we begin to know people of different backgrounds with varying belief systems and ways of life. This can be scary when we find out not everyone is like us. Consequentially our way of thinking may be challenged, but it is also an opportunity to see the beauty and value in strangers; some of whom become our good friends. Mean Girls explores the idea of popularity equalling happiness, of having to claw our way to the top of the pecking order to know we matter. As humans we so long to be loved and accepted by others, and sometimes we can reject others in our attempt to be recognised. An integral aspect of how we achieve this acceptance is the people we socialise with, and ultimately who we want to be friends with.
Personally it seemed like everyone at school had a best friend; someone who you knew you could count on, someone who you knew you could sit next to in class so you wouldn’t be a loner. Sometimes my ‘best friend’ would last a day, sometimes a week or a month, sometimes a year or more. But man, it was a good feeling knowing that I had one. I longed to have that acceptance and to be wanted; to be a ‘first choice.’ I think we all have that innate desire to be accepted, but for me it wasn’t entirely healthy. Best friend status was what I strived for; my value seemed to hinge on the title.
In the later years of school this began to change. I started to realise that no human being is the same and that communication and depth of character is what makes a good friendship-as opposed to sticking a best friend label across someone’s forehead. I took on a new perspective; maybe a ‘best friend’ wasn’t something to brag about, but simply something to enjoy? Maybe life was meant to be experienced with other people, without having to strive for affirmation or validation? Perhaps by having a quite confidence in who I was and by refusing to seek validation from others I would be more inclusive of those around me. I decided to find friendship by being kind instead of trying to prove myself.
The night I realised this changed me- and it also changed my concept of a ‘best friend.’ I’d been on a road trip with a friend. We’d spent most of the time in comfortable silence. Neither of us felt the need to talk constantly, or to prove ourselves to each other. But every now and then we’d start to talk about what really mattered to us; God, what CD we wanted next in the player, whether we should fill up with petrol before the car conked out, the future, friendships, you know real life issues. We didn’t always agree on things which I found difficult to understand, but I tried to hide my opinions. I would do whatever it took to be perceived as that ‘best friend’ because they have to agree on everything right? Then my friend caught me off guard and called me out on my own game. He told me to stop tip toeing around people as if I would offend them constantly; as if a friendship hindered on a moment. Friendship is more than that. Friendship is about understanding, commitment, love, perseverance. Friendship isn’t about having everything in common or always knowing what the other person is thinking or feeling. Friendship is about being there for another person and championing them on to see themselves the way you see them.
I share this with you today to give you hope. So often we feel inadequate, that we are not enough or maybe that we are too much. We try to prove ourselves or change who we are to fit in. Dear friend- you are just enough. You are just right. You were made specifically with your personality, with your looks and dreams and talents. You will find no single person on earth like you. You are marvellous, unique. No one can do what you can do, no one can impact the world in the way you can. Don’t change to ‘fit in’ or ‘be accepted.’ When we choose to be kind, we start to come across people who accept us as we are. We begin to find real friends. They exist, I promise. In fact like me, you’ll probably find that you had a few precious people around you already, people who are kind. We do not need someone who understands us fully- no human can. But we are to be around people who love us for who we are, not for our strengths or despite our weaknesses but just because we are human.
Be that friend to someone else. Communicate with them, laugh with them, forgive them, dance with them and sing at the top of your lungs with the car windows rolled down together. When we accept and treat each other as we want to be treated, we truly have a ‘best friend’. We are free to be.
The Kind Campaign has recently released a documentary about bullying between girls at school. We love it and the Kind Campaign’s website gives you heaps of easy ways to be involved in bringing hope to those around you as we struggle to find our place in the world and feel like we belong! Check it out and think about the ways you can bring kindness to your school or workplace.
A member of our team, Channing, leaves for America this week. She has truly become a ‘best friend’ to many of us here at Hope Movement. This blog is for you girl. Thankyou for your passion, your vision, your acceptance and your persistence to see life grow from fragile, barren places. You are one of a kind- you see the best in people and are willing to walk with them till they see it themselves. We look forward to having our first International team member!